Cal Golden Bears Sprint Into Lead at NCAA Championships With Elite Sprinting by Hoffer and Co.

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Photo Courtesy: Luke Jamroz Photography

The Cal Golden Bears sprinted ahead after the first full day of the 2021 NCAA Championships and did so behind the dominance of the team’s sprinters.

Cal won the sprint relay, then went 1-2 in the 50-yard freestyle to take a commanding lead with two days remaining.

Cal is looking to repeat as NCAA champions after surging to the title in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic halted the repeat chase.

The Cal Golden Bears made a statement with their early wins on Thursday. It wasn’t just that they won events, but it was how they won.

It started with the 200 free relay.

The Cal Golden Bears threw down a 1:14.36 to win an extremely close and exciting race with the Florida Gators, who were charging hard on the anchor leg. The team of Bjorn Seeliger (18.72), Ryan Hoffer (18.06), Daniel Carr (18.51) and Nate Biondi (19.07), was under NCAA record pace through 150 yards, and set the tone for a fast day.

Trenton Julian was next in the 500 free and went out extremely fast before fading a bit to finish fourth. Sean Grieshop was seventh and Zach Yeadon won the B final.

Then Cal went 2-3 in the 200 IM as Hugo Gonzalez and Destin Lasco scored huge points for the team, moving themselves in the top ten all-time. The team was also aided by Bryce Mefford winning the B final and Daniel Carr and Reece Whitley also scoring in the top 16.

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Ryan Hoffer and Bjorn Seeliger celebrate the 50 free. Photo Courtesy: NCAA Media

That set the table for the 50 free, which has been a dominant event for Cal in the last ten years.

Hoffer crushed the field to become the second-fastest performer in history behind Caeleb Dressel. He won in 18.33. It is the ninth-fastest time in history, the only non-Dressel time in the all-time top ten.

It wasn’t just Hoffer, either. He went 1-2 with Seeliger (18.71), a dominating performance that earned 37 points for the Cal Golden Bears in less than 19 seconds.

“It is such an honor. I am just so stoked to be a part of this. I am happy to get up to this level and perform,” Ryan Hoffer said after the race. “It feel so good. We really wanted to get that 1-2. I knew we had it in us, ever since me and Pawel Sendyk did it my sophomore year. Having him following in Pawel’s shoes is kind of fun. … (freshmen) grow up so fast …  It was something we knew we could do.”

And it has the Golden Bears on their way to another thing they know they can do — repeat as NCAA champions.